Dr. Delia Roberts Boosts Ski Industry

Biology Instructor Presents Fit for Snow


Those who embrace the thrills of the outdoors in winter rely upon snowsport resort workers to keep the terrain in top shape, teach proper techniques, get them safely to the top of the runs and swoop in when things go awry. With that type of responsibility, it’s essential snowcat operators, ski school instructors, liftees and patrollers are up the challenge.

Through the Fit for Snow program, Selkirk College biology instructor Dr. Delia Roberts helps provide the tools to ensure snowsport resort workers overcome the rigours of the winter season.

“There is a high injury rate associated with people who work at ski resorts,” says Roberts. “So the main outcome of Fit for Snow was to protect the young people who are working in those resorts from injuries.”

Fit for Snow

Selkirk College biology instructor practices what she preaches by living a healthy outdoor lifestyle. The woman behind the Fit For Snow program helps make winter safer for those in the ski industry.

The Canada West Ski Association approached Roberts in 2010, asking her to put together a program specific to the industry based on her research and applied methods for tree planters (Fit to Plant) and mountain guides. The specific aim was to characterize the factors that contribute to injuries in ski patrols, lift operators and snowsport instructors—including poor control of joint stability, poor dietary practices, inattention and fatigue.

Providing Solutions that Work

“I get good results because I am not just throwing something generic out,” Roberts explains. “I define very carefully exactly what the problem is, so that the solution I provide is both contextually and culturally specific. In the end it talks to the worker in a language they can relate to directly.”

Following the completion of the Fit for Snow data collection after the 2010-2011 season, Roberts constructed a corrective program specific to the needs of the snow sport industry. Using the same five resorts, Roberts provided on-site training and made the Fit for Snow books available to a sample of employees. The result was a significant reduction in the number and severity of injuries with worker compensation claims dropping by 67% overall.

Last season Whistler-Blackcomb signed up for the program specifically targeting a test group of 250 of its 1,500 ski instructors. Roberts brought a team of Selkirk graduates to help her provide workshops and training for the employees. This season the program is being used by Nelson’s Whitewater and Baldface Lodge, Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, and Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Idaho.

On January 21-23, Roberts will travel to Steamboat, Colorado where she has been invited to speak at the National Ski Areas Association’s Western Winter Conference.

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